A New Chapter for VOSD | Voice of San Diego

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A New Chapter for VOSD

As we head in to our 17th year of publishing investigative and explanatory reporting, new leaders are taking over the board and newsroom.
Andrea Lopez-Villafaña and Andrew Keatts / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Voice of San Diego was the first in the country to adapt the nonprofit business model to online news publishing. We never had a manual on how to build it.

It’s time, though, to start a new chapter of the manual we have been writing.

The organization will begin its 17th year creating groundbreaking investigative reporting and explanatory reporting to help people follow the news and understand how power works in San Diego with an almost entirely new leadership team.

Let’s start at the top: The board of directors has chosen Reid Carr as its new chair. Reid is the CEO of Red Door Interactive, a pioneering company in the digital marketing space. He has served on the board for 10 years.

“I want to support and empower the organization to grow its reach and influence,” Carr said.

Red Door Interactive CEO Reid Carr talks about his experience doing business in San Diego at Voice of San Diego’s Brown Bag Story Jam on Dec. 9, 2014.

Carr takes over for Buzz Woolley, Voice of San Diego’s founder and chairman for the last 16 years.

Woolley is a visionary who has advanced the cause of nonprofit journalism more than any single person in the country.

“I am proud of VOSD’s significant accomplishments during my 16 years as chairman,” Woolley said. “I am confident that the remaining board of younger, capable community members will keep the organization relevant in years to come.”

Woolley not only created Voice of San Diego with the late journalist, Neil Morgan. He went on to help launch the Institute for Nonprofit News, which now supports 300 similar organizations across the country. Under his watch, we created the News Revenue Hub, which has helped dozens of news organizations build sustainable business models.

More importantly for us, he was a constant voice of encouragement that we could build something new – that we had to – and he relentlessly challenged us to reach more people while staying as controversial and interesting as possible.

We have a new team forming to do it.

Newsroom: We have restructured our editorial leadership as well.

Two new editors will oversee the content, investigations and coverage our team pursues every day.

Andrew Keatts will serve as managing editor, projects and investigations.

Andrea Lopez-Villafaña will serve as managing editor, daily news. She starts Oct. 11.

Keatts is a familiar face and voice for readers and supporters. He has excelled at investigative reporting, political coverage and policy explanation. Since 2016 Keatts has also been assistant editor, serving as a player-coach who could help reporters hone their story ideas and reporting while steering the newsroom’s direction.

Lopez-Villafaña has been covering communities and policy issues in San Diego since 2017, with the last two years at The San Diego Union-Tribune. In a short time, she has built a remarkable connection with people across San Diego and serves as president of the San Diego-Tijuana chapter of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, with a focus on empowering the next generation of reporters. She graduated from San Diego State University, where she served as editor of the student newspaper’s Spanish section and founded the student chapter of NAHJ at SDSU. She is a DACA recipient from Guadalajara, Mexico.

Funny: They are very different people, but both go by Andy.

I will continue to serve as CEO and editor in chief and help them make their mark on San Diego journalism and public affairs.

Our readers, the board and staff have an array of ideas about where we could go. What’s our role with arts, culture and even sports? How much more could we do to have a better presence in South Bay, East County and North County? Should we put reporters in Sacramento and D.C.? Maybe Tijuana?

We have wrestled with questions like these for a long time while working every day to put out a great product that keeps the politicians and leaders in this community on their toes.

One thing staff and board agree on though is that we must reach a broader, more diverse audience. I sometimes joke that if you know what SANDAG is, you know about Voice of San Diego. But not very many people know what SANDAG is – far fewer than should. SANDAG and agencies like it will decide how San Diego looks in 10, 20 and 30 years. Our quality of life is in their hands and yet so few people understand and are engaged in what these myriad government agencies will be doing, how they’re managed and what they’re deciding.

We’ll begin an update to our strategic plan that fully envisions what is needed in the San Diego region. And we’ll need your input along the way.

You know why: San Diego faces a long list of problems and challenges. It seems daunting but the first place to start is to build a shared story. If we all agree on some facts and realities about these challenges, we can advocate for change and improvement. That’s our mission in short.

Local news has advantages over national news in efforts to build trust. National news can often seem remote and suspicious. But locally, you can meet and talk to journalists. They can see you as a fellow human, and vice versa. If a local journalist says a roof is leaking, you can check it out with your own eyes.

We will build on that, one reader at a time.

If you have any feedback or ideas for our team, send them to scott.lewis@voiceofsandiego.org. 

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